What to know about the Fox News and Bill O'Reilly controversies

PHOTO: An advertisement for Bill OReillys top-rated Fox News show is displayed in the window of the News Corporation headquarters on April 5, 2017 in New York.PlaySpencer Platt/Getty Images
WATCH Trump defends Fox News' Bill O'Reilly

Fox News and its star host Bill O'Reilly are on the defensive after becoming embroiled in new allegations of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination.

Some allegations began last summer and led to the downfall of Fox News' former chief, Roger Ailes.

Here's a breakdown of scandals surrounding the cable news network.

O'Reilly and The New York Times' investigation

On April 1, The New York Times published an article on an in-depth investigation, writing that it "found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O'Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation" after making accusations against him of "sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior."

"The agreements," the Times reported, "totaled about $13 million."

ABC News
PHOTO: A screen grab shows a mobile notification alerting readers to an investigation of Bill O'Reilly published on April 1, 2017.

The Times said two of the settlements took place since Ailes' resignation in July.

It's important to note that some of the settlements reported in the story were already known and date back as far as 2004. ABC News has not been able to independently verify the payouts reported by the Times.

However, ABC News reported in February that federal prosecutors in New York City have been conducting a criminal probe of the company to determine if any laws or accounting regulations were violated when it paid money to settle misconduct accusations against Ailes.

"21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O'Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O'Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O'Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O'Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News," 21st Century Fox, Fox News' parent company, said in a statement.

O'Reilly wrote on his website that he, "like other prominent and controversial people," is "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity."

"In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the human resources department, even on the anonymous hotline," he wrote.

He said that he is "a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way" and that he had "put to rest any controversies to spare my children."

According to O'Reilly, the "worst part" of his job is "being a target for those who would harm me and my employer," and his "primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me."

Dozens of companies have since yanked their advertisements from his show, "The O'Reilly Factor," since the Times' article came out, potentially hurting Fox's bottom line.

The program brings in more revenue than any other show on Fox News, as well as on its main competitors, CNN and MSNBC, according to Kantar Media, a market research firm.

In an attempt to stem the tide, Paul Rittenberg, Fox News' executive vice president of advertising sales, said in a statement, "We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about 'The O'Reilly Factor.' At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs."

More than 50 companies withdrew their advertisements from the program as of Thursday. At least one company, Rosland Capital, is sticking with O'Reilly. "We have no plans to change our advertising strategy," it said.

VIDEO: Radio host Wendy Walsh addresses Bill OReilly sexual harassment claims Play
Radio host Wendy Walsh addresses Bill O'Reilly sexual harassment claims

Wendy Walsh, a regular guest on O'Reilly's show, spoke to ABC News about her allegations, first detailed in the Times' investigation.

She said she received a dinner invitation from O'Reilly after she began appearing in a regular Thursday night segment on his show.

"He brought it up first, as soon as we sat down to dinner, saying, 'We'd like to make you a contributor,'" Walsh said.

"As we walked past the hostess stand at the restaurant, he turned right towards the bedrooms, and I turned left towards the bar, and he caught up with me and said, 'No, no, come back to my suite,'" Walsh said.

According to her, O'Reilly became hostile after she declined his offer.

She said that she appeared on the show only a few more times.

It hasn't been all that bad for O'Reilly.

More than 3.6 million viewers tuned into his show on Monday, April 3, and 3.7 million the next day, according to TVNewser, an industry tracking news site.

On Wednesday, O'Reilly got some presidential defense: Donald Trump, sitting in the Oval Office, told The New York Times that he believed O'Reilly should have fought the accusations.

Characterizing O'Reilly as "a person I know well" and "a good person," Trump said he didn't "think Bill did anything wrong."

VIDEO: Trump defends Bill OReilly amid sexual harassment scandal Play
Trump defends Bill O'Reilly amid sexual harassment scandal

This wasn't the first time that Trump has waded into allegations of sexual misconduct at Fox News.

Days after Ailes' resignation, Trump defended the network chief, calling him "a very, very good person."

By Monday, 21st Century Fox enlisted mega law firm Paul Weiss to probe at least one complaint against O'Reilly.

"21st Century Fox investigates all complaints, and we have asked the law firm Paul, Weiss to continue assisting the company in these serious matters," a 21st Century Fox spokesman said.

It is not clear which complaint or complaints the law firm is investigating.

Last Tuesday, a 21st Century Fox spokesman said that "no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O'Reilly, even anonymously."

In a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, Walsh and her attorney, Lisa Bloom, are seen calling the Fox News hotline to file a complaint.

On Sunday, Bloom appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and said she received "a return phone call from a couple of attorneys who represent Fox News, and they said they are indeed going to do an investigation based on Wendy's complaint."

"I'm told they are taking it seriously," Bloom said.

Bloom did not identify the firm by name in her CNN appearance.

A spokesman for O'Reilly, Mark Fabiani, released a statement, saying, "Paul, Weiss is already retained by the company to look into all hotline calls, so it's inaccurate to say that Paul, Weiss has been brought in specifically for this matter. In short, there is nothing special about the way this hotline call is now being handled."

Last summer Paul, Weiss investigated claims made against Ailes.

Brown, Wright and Douglas allege racial discrimination

Aside from the O'Reilly scandal, Fox was forced to defend itself against two other sets of accusations.

Three Fox News employees — Tichaona Brown, Tabrese Wright and Monica Douglas — filed a lawsuit claiming that they were subject to "appalling discrimination" and "yearslong relentless racial animus" at the hands of a now former executive at the company.

VIDEO: Fox News faces lawsuit alleging appalling discrimination Play
Fox News faces lawsuit alleging 'appalling discrimination'

The women, one former and two current employees of Fox News' payroll department, spoke to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" about their alleged treatment, which they characterized as "appalling" and "insulting."

Among other claims, Brown and Wright allege in the lawsuit that Judith Slate, a former vice president of accounting at Fox, mocked "stereotyped speech and complained that black employees mispronounce" certain words.

Douglas, who was not party to an earlier lawsuit, joined the two other women in an amended lawsuit filed this month, claiming she "was subjected to the same racially discriminatory treatment experienced by Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright."

Asked about the lawsuit, a Fox News spokesperson told ABC News that the network has hired a new head of human resources and that it fired Slater on Feb. 28. The new executive vice president of HR, Kevin Lord, was appointed on Dec. 14, 2016, according to a company press release.

The company said in a statement, "We take complaints of this nature very seriously and took prompt and effective remedial action in terminating Judy Slater before Ms. Brown, Ms. Wright and Ms. Douglas sued in court and even before Ms. Wright and Ms. Douglas complained through their lawyer. There is no place for conduct like this at Fox News, which is why Ms. Slater was fired."

Attempts by ABC News to reach Slater last week for comment were not successful.

Commentator Julie Roginsky's allegations

On April 3, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a lawsuit against the network claiming misconduct on the part of Ailes, co-president Bill Shine and the company.

Among other allegations, Roginsky claimed that Ailes encouraged her to hook up with "older, married, conservative men" and that she faced retaliation when she "refused to engage in a sexual relationship with Ailes."

She also claims that she suffered retaliation from Shine.

Fox News declined to comment on the lawsuit, while Ailes' lawyer Susan Estrich said, "Roginsky's description of meetings that she supposedly had with Roger Ailes are total hogwash."

"Mr. Ailes vociferously denies her allegations," Estrich added.

VIDEO: Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News Amid Growing Allegations of Sexual Harassment Play
Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News Amid Growing Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Previous and ongoing controversies

Allegations of impropriety on the part of Ailes — who was pressured into resigning last summer after facing sexual misconduct claims — continue to dog the company nine months after his departure. (Ailes and Fox denied the allegations at the time.)

Gretchen Carlson's allegations

Ailes downfall was largely brought on by former network star Gretchen Carlson.

She departed the network on June 23 and shortly afterward filed a lawsuit alleging that Ailes "sabotaged" her career after she "refused his sexual advances" and that her job was terminated in retaliation for rebuffing him and complaining to him about sexual harassment.

Fox News and Ailes denied the allegations at the time as "false" and "retaliatory ... for the network's decision not to renew her contract."

Other women are believed to have privately supported Carlson in interviews with investigators.

Ailes resigned on July 21. Media reports suggested he received a severance package valued at about $40 million.

VIDEO: Megyn Kellys New Book Reveals Encounters with Donald Trump and Roger Ailes Play
Megyn Kelly's New Book Reveals Encounters With Donald Trump and Roger Ailes

"Within just two weeks of her filing a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson's extraordinary courage has caused a seismic shift in the media world," Carlson's lawyer said.

Among those backing Carlson was top-rated network star Megyn Kelly, who later told ABC News that Ailes "tried to kiss me three times [in his office], so I rejected that, and when I rejected that, he asked me when my contract was up."

"As soon as I left his office, I called a lawyer, and I did bring the matter to a supervisor at Fox News," she told "Good Morning America" in November.

Carlson settled her case in September in a deal that a source told ABC News was valued at $20 million.

Andrea Tantaros

Carlson and Kelly were not alone in taking on Ailes.

VIDEO: Andrea Tantaros Speaks Out on GMA Play
Andrea Tantaros Speaks Out on 'GMA'

A lesser known but regular figure on the network, Andrea Tantaros, filed a suit against Ailes in August — about a month after his resignation.

In her suit, she claimed that the network "operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion–like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny" and that she was subject to sexual harassment by former Ailes as well as by former Sen. Scott Brown.

In court filings responding to the suit, Fox News said that Tantaros "is not a victim; she is an opportunist" and that her "unverified" lawsuit "bears all the hallmarks of the 'wannabe.'"

In an email to The Boston Globe, Brown said, "Her statement about our limited on air, green room interactions are false."

In October, Tantaros told "Good Morning America" that she hoped to bring "accountability" to the network.

"Fox News has plenty of money. They've bought off a lot of women. What they don't have is accountability," she said.

Tantaros' case has been ordered to go to arbitration by a court, her lawyer Judd Burstein told ABC News on Thursday.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Josh Margolin, Rebecca Jarvis, Will Gretsky and Devin Vilacis contributed reporting from New York.